The Great Gatsby Trailer

This one is a little off the list of SF/fantasy films I’ve been flogging lately, but Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of The Great Gatsby is becoming more intriguing the more I learn more about it.

First there was the impressive cast, led by Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby and the delightful Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan. And then there was the idea of a foreign director helming this most American of stories. Now comes a trailer that shows Luhrmann plans to apply his own particular visual flair; this clip makes it look like an amalgamation of two of Luhrmann’s previous films, Moulin Rouge and Romeo + Juliet (the latter starring a young Leo).

Notice how most of the scenes are packed with elaborately clad extras and the art design is way over the top (which, I suppose, could work for the Roarin’ 20s). And then there’s the music. Both Moulin Rouge and Romeo + Juliet employed anachronistic music, and the trailer makes it sound like the trend will continue. Or maybe Gatsby was secretly a patron of hip-hop.

The Great Gatsby opens on Christmas Day.

MAD MEN 5.10: “Christmas Waltz”

What scares — correction, scared — ultimate ladies’ man Don Draper? Would you believe a woman? You would once you found out the woman was Joan! The notorious man-eater had Don quaking in his boots during the first week he worked at Sterling Cooper.

That’s just one of the interesting details we learned from this week’s MAD MEN. Another fact is that Lane is in even deeper financial trouble than we were led to believe. And he’s only digging himself in deeper.

Faced with an overdue tax bill that was due in two days, Lane (Jared Harris) did the only thing he could think of: He defrauded Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce for the dough. He went out and borrowed $50,000 for the firm, then pretended it was a company surplus and called for Christmas bonuses all around. When Don (Jon Hamm) suggested delaying the checks until the Xmas party, Lane turned to forgery to cut himself a check immediately.
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SkyFall Teaser

The November release of Daniel Craig’s third outing as James Bond has been quietly creeping closer, and today the first teaser clip for SkyFall was released.

It’s difficult to determine anything about the film from this teaser, because it’s exactly that — a teaser — but I have to confess it left me with a slightly “meh” feeling. Perhaps it’s all the shadowy figures, or Craig’s cold-as-ice demeanor. The martial drumming of the score worked well, and some of the images were intriguing, but it’s way too soon to pass judgment.

We know the plot concerns some kind of menace from M’s (Dame Judy Dench) past, and it tests Bond’s loyalty to her. The Official James Bond 007 website (featuring a smooth black-and grey design) has some production details and running countdown to the premiere of the 23rd film in the 50-year-old franchise. I always enjoy a good Bond film, and Craig hasn’t let me down yet.

Battleship (2012)

It’s easy to imagine the pitch that sold Battleship: “It’s the Transformers – at sea!” Clearly, Universal was blinded by the dollar signs in its eyes when this flick was greenlighted, because Battleship sinks under the weight of its own pyrotechnics.

Set in the Pacific Ocean off Hawaii, Battleship follows an alien invasion launched in response to a peaceful signal sent into deep space from Earth. (Damn those scientists!) An alien battle “fleet” of five ships lands (mostly) in the Pacific and sets up an impenetrable dome around Hawaii. Luckily, two U.S. Navy vessels and a Japanese ship are trapped within the exclusion zone, giving Earth a chance to fight back. Unluckily, our ships are massively outgunned by the aliens. The fate of the entire world is left in the hands of a few sailors led by Hopper (Taylor Kitsch), inveterate screw-up who is in the process of being court-martialed out of the Navy, a resentful Japanese captain, and… Rihanna.
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Shanahan Springs Into Action!

In the words of Ronald Reagan: “Well, there you go again…”

Former New York Ranger and longtime New Jersey Devil Brendan Shanahan, who is currently the NHL senior vice president of player safety, has scheduled a hearing for tomorrow morning to pretend to listen to New York Ranger Brandon Prust’s side of the story in the case of a high elbow from Saturday’s game against the Devils. Then Shanahan will mouth some tripe about “player safety” and suspend Prust for one to three games.
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GAME OF THRONES 2.7: “A Man Without Honor”

There were enough escape and recapture escapades to fill a couple of feature films this week.  And the photography of the snowy Icelandic locations was so stark and beautiful (You see what I did there?) that I really felt like I was watching a movie. But the talky character scenes reminded us that we were watching TV, where dialogue takes precedence over action.

Not that I mind, when it comes to GAME OF THRONES. The characterization is so deep and multilayered that it makes the action all the more impressive and meaningful because viewers have a stake in the outcome. We care about the Stark kids escaping, and resent the bumbling Theon, and root against Jamie Lannister, and root for Jon Snow and hate King Joffrey and love Tyrion, and feel sorry for Sansa because we know them.
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RIP ALCATRAZ

ALCATRAZ, J.J. Abrams’ big contribution to the network TV lineup last fall, was officially executed by Fox this week, after just one brief season of 13 episodes — a decision that was criminal.

So, this is me, being angry that Fox has canceled ALCATRAZ. I thought the thriller was really hitting its stride toward the end of its run, but of course the network could not take the risk of bringing it back when the world is in such dire need of new generic cop shows, dumb comedies and more “reality” series. It would seem ALCATRAZ’s crime was not being more of the same.
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Prometheus’ “Quiet Eye” communiqué

I know, I know, just recently I was complaining about all the Prometheus trailers, but this is a bit different; it’s one of those would-be viral videos, and as such it doesn’t spoil the movie by showing anything important to the plot, unlike the plethora of trailer spoilers.

This clip features Noomi Rapace (star of the Swedish version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and its sequels) as Dr. Elizabeth Shaw making her plea to wealthy Mr. Weyland to fund her… pet project. But the really interesting thing about this clip is the Yutani corporation logo splashed over Shaw’s communication. Does she work for Yutani, or did Yutani make the communications gear? Fans of the Alien series know the Weyland-Yutani corporation owned the Nostromo, so when did the companies merge?

“Lost” Sucker Punch Rehearsal Footage

Regular readers of my blog know it’s no secret that I love Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch – probably more than most people in the country. I gave it a positive review when it was released in theaters, and even wrote a piece defending it from the rabid criticism the film generated.

Now, I’ve just come across the web page that features footage for one of the lost musical numbers from the movie. As you probably remember, in “Brothel Life,” the girls at Lennox House practiced dance steps for elaborate musical pieces. Sadly, these productions were cut from the theatrical release, and only one (set to “Love Is the Drug”) was restored on the Blu-ray release. In this brief clip, the film’s choreographer, Paul Baker, conducts a dress rehearsal with Jena Malone. Her character, Rocket, is dressed as a sexy nurse, and begins this snippet dancing inside a giant hypodermic needle! Too bad that didn’t make it into the movie.

Hopefully all of the girls’ individual production numbers will surface at some point! For now, let’s watch Rocket work it…

A Watchmen Toaster? Hurmmm…

One has to wonder if DC Comics is coming up with Watchmen-related merch in a passive-aggressive bid to make Alan Moore kill himself. The latest: the Watchmen toaster.

Yes, you read that correctly. A toaster. Beginning in September, Dynamic Forces has been licensed to produce toasters that burn images from Watchmen into the breakfast staple. I guess it’s in case you need a reminder to take your meds.

Watchmen is hardly the only property being defamed getting the pop-up treatment. DF are also producing toasters based on The Wizard of Oz, A Christmas Story, Where the Wild Things Are, The Goonies, Gremlins, Little Shop of Horrors, Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Mad and Friends. DF describes the project thusly:

These collector toasters will imprint iconic images from your favorite Warner Bros. films and television series onto slices of bread to make a fun impression on your breakfast, lunch or midnight snack! The extra-wide slots allow you to not only toast bread, but also bagels and more. UL tested and approved, it includes illuminated function buttons for cancel, reheat and frozen. The toaster design is a beautiful glossy black finish featuring the logo from the film or television series, and is a compliment to any counter top.

I’ll bet Moore is so furious you could fry an egg on his forehead (and then eat it on the toast).